The majority of Iran’s popular political figures, celebrities and sports icons have criticized the state violence against the ongoing wave of protests that began in September. But others loyal to the government have firmly stood by their leaders. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s silence since the beginning of the uprising on Sept. 16 is very curious, exposing his possible intentions to remain an establishment loyalist rather than falling out of grace with the ruling clerics.
After stepping down in 2013, Ahmadinejad began stepping cautiously forward to carve out a new public image for himself — one that is characterized by liberal attitudes, a conciliatory foreign policy and tolerant views on women's rights. His eight years as president plunged Iran into unprecedented isolation and foisted an extended period of social and cultural downturn when the government banned newspapers, censorship was on the ascent and internet restrictions were tightened.